1. One Popular Egg!
Users of Instagram are always looking for new followers, and sometimes they go to unusual lengths to get them. Consider the post that just set a new record for the most likes. It isn’t eggs-actly what you would expect. The post was a closeup photo of a brown egg. It was posted by an account named world_record_egg, which urged the “#EggGang” to “set a world record together and get the most liked post on Instagram.” More than 25 million viewers came through with likes, easily topping the 18 million likes received by reality star Kylie Jenner announcing the birth her daughter Stormi last year. Items posted on social media often are judged by how popular they are. Use the newspaper and Internet to find and closely read stories about posts that have gotten a lot of likes on social media sites. Use what you read to write an Internet blog discussing what things make posts popular on social media. Share and discuss as a class.
Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
2. Hit the Brakes
Every community has a problem with people who drive too fast. In the state of Texas, a county sheriff is taking a new approach to get speeders to slow down. Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody has set up cardboard cutouts of sheriff’s deputies aiming speed radar devices at the road. When drivers approach, they don’t notice they aren’t real until they’ve already tapped the brakes to slow down, Chody said in a recent interview. “It’s a creative way to solve a problem,” he told local TV station KTCB. In a test run near a school zone he said “people were braking before they got to the cutout or as they were approaching the cutout. … That's exactly what we are trying to do.” Sheriff Chody’s speeding cutouts are an example of someone taking an unusual approach to solve a problem. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about another unusual effort at problem-solving. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor praising the effort, and suggesting how it could inspire others.
Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.
3. Reward for Helping
It’s often said that anyone can make a difference in the world. You don’t have to be rich or powerful to help others, and sometimes those who help could use help themselves. That was demonstrated in Kansas City, Missouri this month, when a player for football’s Kansas City Chiefs got stuck in the snow trying to get to his team’s playoff game with the Indianapolis Colts. Fortunately for offensive lineman Jeff Allen, a man was helping drivers on the area’s Highway 40 by offering to pull them out of the snow. Allen didn’t get the man’s full name, so he turned to social media to find and thank him. It turned out the man helping others was homeless and actually living in the 1995 Chevrolet Suburban he was using to free stranded drivers. Dave Cochran said he never expected public thanks from Allen or the half dozen other drivers he helped. But he was overwhelmed by the praise and support he got, including a Go Fund Me account that raised $10,000 to help him get back on his feet. On top of all that, Allen gave him free tickets to the Chiefs’ AFC championship game against the New England Patriots. People often help others without expecting to get a reward. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read a story about someone who helped others in this way. Use what you read to write a personal opinion column, detailing what the person did, what that said about his/her character and what might be a good way to thank or reward this person.
Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what a text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
4. Old Trees Threatened
Global warming and climate change are raising sea levels around the world. In the state of New Jersey, that is bad news for trees that have been growing near the ocean for nearly 500 years. The trees are black gum trees that live in an old-growth forest next to Bear Swamp near the Delaware Bay. According to environmental experts, rising sea waters are pushing salt water farther and farther up local streams from the bay, threatening to kill the ancient species. The ocean water raises the level of salt in the soil near the streams, which can kill the black gums and other trees. “Everything is dying where the stream comes in,” one naturalist told the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper. “… If you ever have an unbeliever in climate change, bring him here.” Global warming is affecting natural environments all over the world. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about different ways warming is having an effect. Use what you read to create a multi-media presentation for the class, detailing different ways global warming and climate change are affecting natural environments. At the end of your presentation, suggest steps people or governments could take to address the situations.
Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.
5. The Anger Room
At one time or another, everyone feels angry, frustrated, disappointed or sad. Most people are able to work through these feelings, but sometimes they need help. In the Asian nation of China, a young entrepreneur has set up an unusual business to give people a safe outlet for dealing with negative emotions. Jin Meng and a group of friends in the city of Beijing have set up an “anger room” called Smash that lets people work through their emotions by, well, smashing things. Instead of bottling up their anger, they can release it by breaking bottles, appliances, clocks or telephones with bats and hammers. Smash was set up to help people 20 to 35 years old, who often feel great pressure from jobs and lifestyle issues in Beijing. Apparently, there is a market: Smash now serves 600 customers a month — and goes through 15,000 bottles! “We’ve provided a safe place for people to let out negative energy,” Jin told Sky News. “And we are happy about that.” Dealing with negative emotions often is a challenge. Use the newspaper or Internet to find and closely read stories on different approaches. Then use what you read to hold a class discussion sharing things that you and your classmates do to deal with negative emotions. Use points from the discussion to create a poster highlighting several approaches that work for your class.
Common Core State Standards: Responding thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarizing points of agreement and disagreement; using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points.